Olive oil is so much more than a cooking aid or salad dressing.
There’s a rich history, spirituality, and deep purpose behind its authentic creation and use.
To get to the heart of the art of extra virgin olive oil, we sat down with Sarafino President, Angelo Tramonti to explore the truth behind it all.
Candid and deeply knowledgeable, Angelo shared with us what ‘extra virgin olive oil’ means, how it’s made, and how important food education is to the future of our palates.
We are honoured to share the Sarafino story and to have carried their products in our Maunders Marketplace store for almost 20 years.
The Sarafino Story
Sarafino is a small importing and distribution company that deals only in natural and uncompromised artisanal products which are true to their origins.
A great deal of their time is spent meeting and educating clients about where their products come from and how they are produced. Much of these labours are devoted to their internationally renowned Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oils and their Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
These products are created on their own family’s estate. In their words, they are their roots, as it was through this connection that Sarafino began.
Together, the Sarafino team has come to value traditional farming operations that offer personal responsibility for what they create.
Their goal is to defend and promote such artisanal practices, and it is exclusively with these types of operations that they do business.
“The premise of everything we do is anchored in working with small family independent, high-quality producers.” – Angelo Tramonti, Sarafino President
Complexity & Deception In The Olive Oil Industry
Angelo explained that there are many layers to the olive oil industry, including the process, the work involved, and the economics behind oil production. Like becoming a wine sommelier, it can take years to fully appreciate authentic olive oil.
“At the beginning, it was pretty hard to wrap my head around. I was only 21 or 22 when we started. And there’s this whole thing about real olive oil vs. fake olive oil. It took a couple of years to truly delve into this industry to understand actually what’s going on.” – Angelo Tramonti
As explained by Angelo, most people do not realize that there are generic brands that are deceptively labelling their product as extra virgin olive oil.
For Sarafino, this became one of their biggest challenges and most rewarding initiatives – providing education on taste and what to look for on a label.
What To Look For In An Extra Virgin Olive Oil
When we asked Angelo about what to look for in olive oil, his advice was simple – “read and pay attention to the label.”
He explained that many companies just put an image of olives or the Italian flag on their packaging to make it look authentic, where, in fact, it’s not.
“The fundamental part of education is understanding the wording. The differences between Made in Italy, imported from Italy, packed in Italy vs bottled in Italy.” – Angelo Tramonti
Angelo also explained the importance of looking on the label of oil for a family name, not only a company name.
“The family name shows that someone is not only putting their reputation on the line for what they have produced but that they are also personally taking legal responsibility for the bottles contents”. – Angelo Tramonti
The family’s address and contact information should also be included on the label. Other important details to look for include a best before date, the production’s lot number and the types of olives (cultivar) that are used in the oils production.
However, the most telling sign of all is to TASTE the oil. You should taste fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness.
The Differences Between Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To put it boldly, extra virgin olive oil is solely made from olives grown on farms and produced in close proximity to where the groves are situated., and with the generic brands, they may be made up of other oils such as canola, soy, sunflower, or hazelnut.
Extra Virgin – used raw on soups, sandwiches, stews, salads, grilled meats, veggies, pasta, pizza, and as part of your daily health regime! Can also be used to cook with.
Virgin – used for cooking and baking, sauteing and marinating. (more economical than using extra virgin) Can also be used raw like an extra virgin.
Acidity is the most influential factor in the final grading of an oil. In general, Extra Virgin olive oil is made from younger olives and Virgin olive oil from a more matured olive. The importer and/or producer will have access to the acidity information for each batch.
Extra Virgin olive oil will be more distinct and complex with a pronounced array of fruity notes. Virgin oils will offer deeper earthy characteristics, with a pronounced olive flavour.
The feeling of Virgin oil, whether it is on your hands or in your mouth, will be much denser. The same quality can be observed by watching it drop from one’s fingertip or swirling it around in a bowl.
Every year when a producer has completed the harvesting and processing of the olives into oil, . As a result, producers will sell the higher classifications (extra virgin) at a higher price.
“If you know how olives are grown, there’s limited harvesting that is very labour intensive. And olives only come from certain parts of the world. Then add the fact that you’re shipping it across the ocean. Paying just five dollars doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up.” – Angelo Tramonti
Overall, extra virgin olive oil can aid the digestive tract, stimulate metabolism, delay the effects of cellular aging, reduce cholesterol, and so much more.
How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Should Be Stored
The ideal temperature to store olive oil to reduce oxidation but to avoid clouding is around 15°C/ 59°F. Olive oil is best kept in a cool, dark place, such as the basement or a cupboard.
Keep the oil away from its three enemies – light, heat and oxygen.
Buy Sarafino Products At Maunders Today
Today, Sarafino offers not only olive oils, but also vinegar, condiments, pasta, preserved vegetables, truffles, seasonings, sweets, olive wood products, beverages, skincare, and beyond!
“We expanded as we gained a reputation in having high quality, real olive oil and it sort enhanced our potential to bring in more producers. We now work with olive oil producers and vinegar producers, rice and salt, and some Canadian products as well, like mustard, hot sauces and maple syrup.” – Angelo Tramonti
On behalf of everyone at Maunders Marketplace, we would like to thank Angelo and the Sarafino team for their continued support.
Visit us in-store today to learn more about extra virgin olive oil and to try Sarafino products!